Why fostering digital first eco-systems will create sporting organisation winners

Published on the 23/01/2020 | Written by Sachin Bajaj

Cricket_HCL technologies

It’s time for the sports industry to focus on delivering digital experiences that bowl supporters over…

Think digital technology is already pervasive across the local sporting landscape? You’re correct, in part. Buying tickets online and checking out the view of the field from your selected seats, pre-ordering match day meals and receiving an immersive experience, both inside and outside the stadium, have all become unremarkable events – at least they were pre-Covid.

Also unremarkable is the use of on-field technology, such as tech-assisted refereeing, and digital analytics to refine teams’ strategies and improve their form.

Initiatives that upgrade customer experience without rethinking the infrastructure, processes and personnel that support it can create failures at critical times.

But utilising a few applications and websites and building a solid digital core to support a gamut of activities, on and off the field, are two quite different things. Sporting organisations which focus on the latter will be better placed to engage with partners and fans, maximise revenue opportunities and evolve their offerings to meet changing tastes and times, in the 2020s and beyond.

In sporting organisations’ favour is the fact that local audiences are deeply interested in the content they produce. Whether we’re attending in person (when that becomes an option again) or barracking for our favourite team from the comfort of the couch, while using a second screen to scroll through social posts about the game, ‘too much sport is never enough’, as Australian sports parodists Roy and HG famously put it.

What’s going to work? Teamwork
Most sporting teams have stand-out performers whose contributions can make or break games but winning consistently is usually a team effort, with players pulling together to achieve a common goal.

Cooperation and collaboration are also paramount when executing a digital first strategy. Disparate, standalone or duplicate solutions typically result in an inconsistent or fractured user experience.

With clubs, administrative bodies and related enterprises all running their own shows, historically, such systems are common enough in the sporting world.

Organisational inertia and lack of leadership can compound the problem presented by an absence of coordination. Securing funding for initiatives whose return on investment may be delayed or difficult to quantify is also a perennial issue.

Back to basics
Changing the status quo starts with taking stock. That means assessing the current technology landscape, classifying initiatives by risk, complexity and the time frame within which digital can leveraged, and developing a technology road map to guide operational decision making.

Exploiting data to learn more about what customers are looking for should be integral to the process; as should relentless focus on governance, security and rapid and reliable delivery of content.

For many sporting organisations, becoming digital-centric may not be possible with their current IT line-up – at least not without significant upskilling and reskilling programs. They may need to augment the team with experienced digital specialists and engage external partners who are able to turn strategy into solid results.

Soaring performances needs a solid platform
Putting on a good show for the fans is a top priority in the competitive and professional sporting world and it’s easy for organisations to take the same tack when they embark on wholesale digitisation initiatives.

But behind every star sporting team, there’s a solid support structure of people, programs and processes, all dedicated to ensuring the success of the players during those all-important minutes and hours when they’re out on the field.

Transformative digitisation works in exactly the same way. Hence, while a magnificent end user experience is undoubtedly something to strive for, it’s impossible to achieve it without solid back office operations and a supportive corporate culture.

Many sporting organisations have learnt this the hard way. Initiatives that upgrade customer experience without rethinking the infrastructure, processes and personnel that support it can create bottlenecks and service delivery failures at critical times.

It’s a common rookie mistake and one which can be most easily averted by joining forces with an experienced digital provider which has the expertise to ensure new products and services have a solid, secure and scalable foundation.

Looking ahead to a digital future
Digitisation continues to transform the way in which Australians and New Zealanders live, work and play. Local sporting organisations which hope to remain relevant and viable cannot stay out of the swim. Those which do the hard yards now, to reinvent themselves and revitalise their customer experience via judicious deployment of digital technology, will reap the rewards down the track.

If heightened partner and fan engagement, increased revenue and the ability to adapt and pivot on a dime matter, then make 2020 the year you take a deep dive into digital.


Sachin Bajaj is senior vice president at HCL Technologies

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